Arsenal in battle for Madrid star

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Arsenal are being linked with a move for Real Madrid midfielder Mahamadou Diarra.

The Mali international is set for showdown talks with Jose Mourinho regarding his future at the Bernabeu, and Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger is preparing a move should the powerhouse be surplus to requirements at Real.

29-year-old Diarra moved to Greek side OFI Crete as a teenager before switching to Dutch Eredivisie club Vitesse in 1999. Three years later, Diarra moved to Ligue 1 side Lyon in France, winning four titles in four stunning years at the Stade de Gerland.

His wonderful form earned a €26 million move to Los Blancos, with the Spanish giants beating Manchester United and Chelsea to the coveted signature.

After a bright start to his Real career, Diarra slipped down the pecking order at the club, featuring only 24 times in La Liga during the last two La Liga campaigns. Injury played a part in the 2008-09 season, but Diarra became backup to his name-sake Lassana Diarra last year.

These lack of opportunities have led to Diarra being linked with an exit on several occasions, with the Red Devils chasing their target as recently as January.

Sir Alex Ferguson is once again being linked with a move, but Gunners boss Wenger has also noted the opportunity to add a player of quality to his ranks at the Emirates.

"We have interest from England and France, so if he is not going to get games at Real he will leave,” agent Frederic Guerra told the Sunday Mirror.

The north London club have been accused of lacking midfield steel since the exit of former skipper Patrick Vieira several years ago, and Diarra could finally solve the Frenchman's problems for a competitive £6.5 million.

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